On the latest episode of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome House Speaker Pro Tem Elijah Haahr to the program for the second time.
The Springfield Republican recently emerged victorious in his party’s race to become speaker of the Missouri House in January 2019. He ended up defeating Reps. Robert Cornejo, and Holly Rehder.
Barring a complete collapse of Republican fortunes next year, Haahr will succeed House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, who will leave the House because of term limits. Haahr will wield enormous power over whether legislation lives or dies. And he’ll also be the public face for a GOP caucus that will make most of the vital policy decisions in Jefferson City.
Haahr was hesitant to predict what his major priorities would be during his speakership, especially because issues that are top of mind now may be different in 2019. But he expects that his gap before he takes the speaker’s gavel will be eventful, especially when it comes to bills curbing the power of labor unions.
- Two likely priorities of his speakership are finding more state money for road improvements and overhauling the state’s utility regulations. Both of those issues are likely too contentious to get passed during an election year, he said.
- He favors a Republican effort to move a likely referendum on the state’s “right-to-work” law to the August 2018 ballot,instead of placing it before voters in November 2018 . That’s the policy that bars unions and employers from requiring workers to pay dues as a condition of employment. Doing that could prevent Democratic candidates in next year’s general election from benefiting from a robust turnout from union members.
- Regarding a bid to curb the state’s tax credits, Haahr said any reductions in certain incentives should be “revenue neutral.” A gubernatorial commission suggested big changes to tax credits that spruce up old buildings and cultivate the development of low-income housing.
- With so many legislators leaving due to term limits, Haahr said it’s not out of the question that Republicans could lose several seats next year in the Missouri House. But while also stressing that a lot of things can happen between now and November 2018, Haahr expressed confidence that the Missouri GOP has a robust infrastructure to defend its supermajority.
Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum
Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies
Music: “The Man” by The Killers